Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Inspiration In Under 37 Seconds (Part VII)

Posted by Michael

Today’s quick blast of inspiration comes from an ancient Chinese proverb:

“The man who removes a mountain begins by carrying away small stones.”

So, whatever mountain is in front of you today, I hope you are able to find your next small stone to move!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Loved Like A Sunrise

Posted by Michael

If you grew up or have spent much time in church or around religious people, you may have heard the following statement:

Your sin is what keeps you from God.

It’s a bold statement, and in many ways a fair statement, but it is not fully true. It’s true that the brokenness in our lives drives us from the God who created an unbroken world. The distance is created by our lack of desire for God. Sin dampens our desire to be whole. Sin numbs us to the wonder of forgiveness, and the amazing prospects of hope. In many ways sin does indeed keep us from God, but to be fully understood, that statement must been considered in light of the following truth:

Your sin does not keep God from you.

God’s passion to restore us, and to invite us back into relationship with Him is so much bigger than we can imagine. God is willing to give everything (and has) to bring us back home to Him. God doesn’t wait across the way while we battle and conquer and overcome all of the sin in our life. He stands beside us so that we can tackle it together (which is our only chance to grow and change anyway). So, if today finds you feeling down and discouraged. If you are wondering if you will ever get it right, take a second and refocus your attention, off of your failures onto a God who like a sunrise, returns each day to find and love you. 

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Arrogance and Love

Posted by Michael

Many people tuned in to the recently held Creation vs. Evolution debate between Bill Nye and Ken Ham. This post is not a critique of the debate or a defense of one side or the other. (It is frustrating that Ken Ham is thought to represent the view of all creationists, but that’s for another post). In the aftermath of the debate, I went back and watched other debates in which Christians participated. I watched both “in house” debates (Christians vs. Christians), and debates that featured a Christian vs. a non-Christian.  I was incredibly frustrated by the majority of what I watched and would like to make a plea to all Christians who debate publicly and to those who  discuss tough issues with friends, co-workers, and the like. It’s simply this:

Your arrogance makes it impossible to process and weigh the merits of your viewpoint.

Arrogance is a trait shared by Christians and non-Christians alike, but for Christians it violates the most basic principle that Jesus instructed us to follow, “love your neighbor as yourself”.  Arrogance and love cannot exist in the same argument. Arrogance is the opposite of love and treats others and objects to be defeated.  In a letter to a church in Ephesus, early theologian and church planter Paul, wrote that speaking the truth in love is a mark of maturity that we should all seek to be growing into more and more (Ephesians 4:15). Truth is not a hammer with which to shatter arguments and people, it’s an antidote, given in love, in hopes that it will be embraced to reverse the damage of our broken world. So, please stop the pithy insults, personal jabs, and laughing at the presumed ignorance of your opponent. Those things have never changed anything or anyone and never will. Instead, in the words of Sarah Bessey, “Let’s sit here in hard truth and easy beauty, in the tension of the Now and the Not Yet of the Kingdom of God, and let us discover how we can disagree beautifully.”  

the quote listed above was from Sarah Bessey's Jesus Feminist

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

In Process

Posted by Michael

Strep throat and the Super Bowl has kept me away from the blog for a couple of weeks, but it's good to be back....

I need to open this blog post with a very important statement:

Christians aren’t perfect.

Ok, I realize that it’s not the most earth shaking declaration ever made. As obvious as this thought is, it is critically important, not only for Christians to remember, but for Christians to own in the presence of others. We are not perfect in our understanding or in our behavior, in our orthodoxy or orthopraxy. We don’t have it all figured out. There is a ton we don’t know, and the stuff we do know is connected to our growth, and may change or develop over time. For instance, we may know at age 7 that certain foods make us feel poorly. It may not be until our teen years that we discover a gluten intolerance or allergy of some sort to explain the sickness. It might be even later still that we realize that we are allergic to lemons and not all citrus fruits. In much the same way, people who attempt to relate to and follow God are in process, and we should be ok with that. After all, our faith is not built on the amount of knowledge or facts about God that we possess. It’s based on a relationship with God, a relationship that He initiated and sustains.   To posit either explicitly or implicitly that you have to have a perfect understanding of all things scientific, philosophical, literary, and theological in order to relate to God is terrifying and simply untrue. The story of the Bible is a story of a God who is bigger than our ignorance, bigger than our rebelliousness, and bigger than our immoral thoughts and practices.  (And yes, we all have all three of those). The journey away from our ignorance, fear, and hatred is one that God wants to take with us, not one that He demands we take for Him.

So, if you don’t have it all figured out, welcome! You are in good company, and you are loved by the God who alone knows and understands it all.